When I walked into the barn at Stick and Stone Farm last Wednesday eve, the mood was beyond cheerful. It was downright merry, and it seeped into my bones. I swear it was on account of the sweet potato greens. The farmers and farmhands were giggling and chattering like squirrels praising the Indian Summer, blessed with one more day to collect acorns for winter storage.

Sara, the superwoman who organizes the weekly farm-share (community supported agriculture), asked me “so what will you do with the sweet potato greens this week?” I racked my brain…

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“Sweet potato greens? You mean, the leaves that grow on top of the sweet potatoes?” Farmer Lucy chuckled and confirmed with a big grin and a proud “yes!” I snatched a spade-shaped leaf from the box and shoveled it into my mouth. My palate reeled with surprise: this was a wholly new and unexpected flavor! A new ingredient entirely. I had never tasted anything like it before. It was crisp and fresh, but snappier than spinach. It had a punch that was floral beyond belief, and reminded me of the taste I sometimes catch in my mouth when I walk by an overly perfumed body. Except this wasn’t distasteful at all. I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen!

Lucy suggested a hint of something sweet, like maple syrup. If anyone knows about the fine alchemy of flavors, it’s your farmer. I took her advice. When cooked, the sweet potato greens do come to resemble spinach more brightly, with crunchier and more substantial stems. The floral note is tempered, and a splash of any vinegar brings out their attitude. This simple recipe is a must try for the sweet-potato-green-newbie, like me!

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Maple-Sauteed Sweet Potato Greens

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8

There are few quick meals more satisfying to me than popping a runny yolk over a bowl of heaping greens. Consider topping yours with a poached egg, or sunny side up!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large bunch sweet potato greens
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Over medium-low, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.
  2. Add the garlic and saute just until the edges begin to brown.
  3. Add the greens and cover the pan with a lid. After about 2-3 minutes, the greens will wilt enough to toss them. Toss in the maple syrup, vinegar and salt. Toss the greens well and replace the lid.
  4. When the greens are completely wilted, like spinach, remove them from the heat.
  5. Serve warm, or cold the next day for a refreshing salad.
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